Three weeks of Goldsmiths University strike underway

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Goldsmiths University UCU members striking to defend jobs, on the picket line yesterday morning

THREE weeks of strikes at Goldsmith’s University in south London began yesterday morning and continue today by members of the University and College Union (UCU) in an escalating dispute over plans to sack 46 members of staff.

Goldsmiths wants to make the cuts as part of a ‘recovery plan’ after years of financial mismanagement have left the university with a £12.7m deficit.
The UCU says the ‘recovery plan’ is a deal struck with Lloyds and Natwest banks to use redundancies to improve the university’s finances.
Following a failure by the university last week to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies, staff have been left with no option but to take industrial action in defence of jobs.
The full dates that Goldsmiths staff will be on strike in this dispute are:

  • Week 1 Mon 7th & 8th February;
  • Week 2 Wed 16 – Fri 18;
  • Week 3 Mon 28 Feb – Fri 4th March.

It comes as staff at 68 UK universities prepare for strike action over pensions, pay, conditions and workload.
Goldsmiths has already been hit with a global boycott which means UCU is asking its members, other trade unions, labour movement organisations and the international academic community to support its members at Goldsmiths in any way possible, including by:

  • Refusing to speak at or organise academic or other conferences and events (with Goldsmiths or involving Goldsmiths) which do not directly contribute to core teaching duties on accredited programme;
  • Refusing to participate in new non-research-based partnership enterprises with Goldsmiths;
  • Refusing to write for any academic journal which is edited at or produced by Goldsmiths;
  • Refusing to accept new contracts as external examiners for taught courses;
  • Relocating events due to take place at Goldsmiths to other venues.

UCU regional official Barry Jones said: ‘Our members will not stand by whilst management threaten the academic integrity of the institution and try to make students and staff pay the price for catastrophic failures of governance.
‘It is very simple for university managers to end this dispute, they need to guarantee no compulsory redundancies, save staff jobs and work with us to build a university to be proud of once again.
‘Taking strike action is a last resort for our members but the intransigence of Goldsmiths’ management means we cannot sit by while staff jobs are attacked and students’ education is put at risk.
‘The university’s saving drive is short-sighted and will have a devastating effect on staff and students.’
On the picket line yesterday morning Co-President of Goldsmiths UCU, Vincent Moystad said: ‘Senior management are carrying out a pretty wholesale restructure of administrative support workers.
Students are facing services with dozens of job losses and significant downgrading. People are getting paid less to do the same work.
‘Goldsmiths have also threatened cuts in two academic departments, English and Creative Writing, and History – a total of 52 job cuts which is unsustainable.
‘We took three weeks of strike action last term, and we have delayed and disrupted the process, but it is still on.
‘So we have a further 10 days of strike action, as well as the national strike action for UCU, around pay, pensions, casualisation and pay inequality.’
Marianella Lopez, a third year student in Anthropology and Media Studies, said: ‘I have joined this picket line as I am documenting what is happening with neoliberalisation at Goldsmiths.
‘I don’t believe in capitalism or neoliberalism.
‘This system is built so that the people at the bottom don’t survive.
‘People are being forced to work on a freelance basis so that the government doesn’t have to support them. You end up working double for less money.
‘You don’t have social security because you are freelance or a temporary worker. That is my situation right now, that is how I am forced to survive.’